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Notes from the Director

Jackson Hole Elephant Summit & Wildlife Film Festival

We've been on the go the last few weeks - first the Elephant Summit & Wildlife Film Festival in Jackson Hole, then the Lewa USA fundraiser Gala in NYC, followed by the Wildlife Conservation Network Expo in San Francisco, that why this post - intended for September - had to wait until now. The Elephant Summit commenced at Jackson's Center For The Arts with the screening of "Soul Of The Elephant", the newest work by acclaimed film makers Dereck & Beverly Joubert. The showing of this absolutely spellbinding film was preceded with an acoustic solo performance by JK and followed with an onstage conversation between Dereck, Beverly, Cynthia Moss (Amboseli Trust for Elephants) and Joyce Poole (Elephant Voices). Much was discussed and much was learned about the state of the Elephant that evening. The following days were filled with numerous presentations, group discussions and additional screenings of Elephant focused films. It was truly a Summit of many of the most distinguished people and NGOs engaged in the study, protection and conservation of Elephants. Among these were, Iain and Saba Douglas Hamilton and Frank Pope of 'Save The Elephants', the aforementioned Cynthia Moss and Joyce Poole, John Hemingway (filmmaker of "Battle For The Elephants" and the recently broadcast "Warlords Of Ivory") and Paula Kahumbu, both of 'Wildlife Direct', Pat Awori 'Pan African Wildlife Conservation Network', Winnie Kiiru 'Conservation Kenya', Ginger Thomson 'Lewa USA', Jeffrey Parish 'Wildlife Conservation Network', Peter Knights 'Wild Aid' as well as representatives from NGOs such as WWF (World Wildlife Fund), IFAW (International Fund For Animal Welfare) etc. Also in attendance was Greg Carr who's 'Gorongosa Restoration Project' in Mozambique is one of the most ambitious conservation efforts ever undertaken. This enormous project - the restoration of Gorongosa Park after the almost total extermination of its wildlife during Mozambique's 15 year long civil war -  has resulted in the successful reintroduction of numerous species in Gorongosa. The park's wildlife population is now over 20,000 strong. This was documented in the inspiring film "Gorongosa Park - Rebirth Of Paradise'" recently shown on PBS. The Summit was followed by the Wildlife Film Festival which had over 800 participants including well known producers like Disney-Nature, BBC and National Geographic but also numerous independent companies. Collectively several hundred films were submitted for consideration. Being immersed in such a multitude of committed people, during the Summit as well as the Festival, had a profoundly energizing effect on us. We made some new connections with several conservationists and were greatly encouraged by their enthusiasm and dedication. Towards the end of the Festival a 'come one, come all' BBQ sponsored by the National Geographic Wild Channel, with the theme of "Born To Be Wild", was held in nearby Moose, yes that's right Moose. JK got into the spirit of the event and performed a couple of Steppenwolf songs with the very able and versatile 'Snake River Band'. This was met with great applause and lots of action on the dance floor and was decidedly a highlight of the evening. The last Festival screening we attended was "Racing Extinction" a most sobering film about the deplorable rapid decline of wildlife everywhere and an urgent wake up call. The film showed this phrase projected onto the UN Building "The whole world is singing, but we have stopped listening". Let us hope that it's not too late for us to remember how. Next post we'll cover the Lewa USA and WCN Expo events. Until then: JK & JMK